For me, along with Chuck the show that stood out last year from the US new TV productions was Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Why? Well the scripts developed a interesting plotline, even working within the constraints of John Connors survival. Then there were some excellent acting performances, and the action moved things along at a brisk pace. The production, like many others, suffered from the writers strike and ended just as it was really getting good.
Now it’s back, and based on the opening episode of season 2, it’s lost none of its ability to play with your expectations or mess with your mind.
The open scenes replay and augment those of the previous finale, with Cameron blown up in her 4×4, and John and Sarah in mortal danger from those who planted that bomb.
Cameron looks a mess, but the damage she’s sustained has also made her revert to previous programming, so she’s a Terminator again. This was always a possibility, as we’d been warned by Derek Reese that they always go ‘bad’, and never should be trusted. So we’re now replaying a movie Terminator sequence where a badly damaged Terminator pursues John and Sarah relentlessly, albeit slowly.
The theme of this story arc appears to be random collisions or poor road safety, because poor old Sarah crashes into everything in her path. Actually, being hit by vehicles is also made reference to by their new and previously unseen nemesis Catherine Weaver, played by Garbage front lady Shirley Manson. She’s the uber-bitch that looks set to take the ‘Turk’ computer and create Skynet. I won’t totally spoil her final appearance in this episode, but I will say the budget for effects on this show just got much bigger.
Eventually Cameron catches up with John and Sarah, because they stop in a church so that she can, conveniently. This leads to a sequence where they trap her between two trucks and John disables her by removing the chip from her cranium. But not before she pleads for her life in an entirely un-Terminator manner and tells him she ‘loves’ him. In Sci-Fi TV show happenings it’s all quite ‘shocking’, really.
If you’re wondering what happened to Derek Reese and Charlie Dixon, they’re driving around in Charlie’s ambulance sightseeing the trail of destruction Sarah inevitably leaves in her path, demonstrating that you don’t have to be a genius, or Terminator, to find her.
FBI Agent Ellison is placed on six weeks leave after he’s the only survivor when Cromartie killed twenty of his fellow agents at the end of the first series. He’s not to be killed because he has a part to play in the death of John, or so the Terminators believe.
The episode ends with John taking control and deciding not to destroy Cameron but instead accepts her word she’s fixed. This might seem a little bit irrational, but the way it’s handled is that it’s now John and not Sarah that calls the shots – he’s becoming the freedom fighter he’s supposed to be. This takes his character entirely out of the plotline created by the third movie, but frankly I’m enjoying this so much I don’t actually care.
The show ends with John, Sarah, Cameron and Reese together again and two Terminators out to get them. Cameron’s face is stapled together, but I’m sure she’s make a fashion statement out of it somehow. This is a ‘tight’ show as Cameron might say, and I’m looking forward to them bringing it on in the coming months.